Trump’s trip, then, is the epitome of this unique, sales-based approach that characterized his campaign and administration — a move toward achieving personal, political, and even religious victory, simultaneously. But to what end? The only clear motivation to which I can point is the uncannily vague promise to “Make America Great Again.”
In essence, we have struggled to understand the work and responsibility of Christian compassion in issues of healthcare and policy. Should this responsibility be shared by all and secured by the government, or should it primarily be the domain of people of faith and those moved by a higher calling to mercy and healing? With the new GOP Health Care Bill, and the ongoing debates about healthcare in America, Christians across the aisle struggle to evaluate how well we are doing at caring for the disenfranchised and the sick.
In many conversations I’ve had with my friends who are people of color, it’s clear the church has set itself up in America to mostly benefit a certain kind of person. The white American church is a Western version of the gospel that often manifests as a top-down model that benefits the wealthy. And the more that I learn about my own Native American identity tied to the church, the more I see that truth throughout our nation’s history.
Our natural tendency after a horrific event is to rush too quickly into blame and explanation.
After the Pulse nightclub shooting here in Orlando, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, which targeted the LGBTQ community and left 50 people dead including the shooter, I was probably not alone in asking, “Who did this and why?”
Film critic Alissa Wilkinson writes that “Christian theology is rich and ... full of imagination that's broad enough to take up residence among all kinds of human cultures. It contains within itself the idea that art exists as a good unto itself, not just a utilitarian vehicle for messages.” The Wedding Plan is a prime example of this kind of religious art. It’s a message movie, a window into a culture that makes the specific and personal universally relatable, and still manages to tell a good story.
The long history between the church and LGBTQ people is one fraught with tension, pain, and, sometimes, violence. Those who believe that homosexuality is a sin often point to several well-known Scripture passages from the Old and New Testaments. Most of the Christian debate about human sexuality has centered on interpretation and emphasis of these passages.
In his book God and the Gay Christian , Christian LGBTQ activist Matthew Vines challenges LGBTQ-condemning interpretations of these Scriptures — sometimes referred to as “clobber passages.” But these clobber-texts aren’t the only Scriptures that can guide faithful Christians as we seek a godly understanding of sexual and gender identity.
Without any input from the centralized government, the Afghan Peace Volunteers build community and share resources. Within Kabul, they arrange inter-ethnic activities and projects, distribute food, educate children, and manufacture heavy blankets to help families survive the harsh winters. They risk their lives to relate with people whom they are told are their enemies.
There are times when just being appalled by bigotry isn’t enough, when just opposing racist words is no longer adequate, or only being a critic of hateful and violent rhetoric is morally insufficient. There are times when must find the courage to speak and to act — and to intervene in situations of violence and hate on behalf of those who are being attacked.
This is one of those times.
It is striking to come across a spare, sharp, faith-constructed word like mercy in a discussion of the Constitution by those who wrote and shaped it. It shouldn't surprise us, though — despite their deist tendencies, the framers of the Constitution lived in a culture linked by Christianity as a common bond and area of shared knowledge. The first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall furthered this theme by referring to a pardon as "an act of grace."
Since becoming more vocal about my Native American faith in the last year, I’ve had experiences that have confirmed that American Christianity is not only naïve to indigenous beliefs, but actually fully submersed in ideologies and attitudes that naturally lead to discrimination toward indigenous and other people of color — a continuation of the savior complex.
I barely slept the night of the stabbing. It was a hot night, and I could hear the train tracks through our open windows. The last time I slept (or didn’t sleep) like that was election night. It was freezing, the windows closed, but the same nauseating dread kept my head buzzing, my jaw locked, my eyes open. Except that on election night it was the fear of the world I would wake up to that kept me awake. Now we know exactly what that world looks like.
The same week that President Donald Trump was meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, another historic event was taking place, as the Global Christian Forum facilitated a groundbreaking encounter with the major global bodies representing most every part of world Christianity.
Power can be transformative, but only if power is suffused with love. As Andy Crouch has written, “Power at its worst is the unmaker of humanity—breeding inhumanity in the hearts of those who wield power, denying and denouncing the humanity of the ones who suffer under power.… Power, the truest servant of love, can also be its most implacable enemy.”
Thus we began the week of healing as the media broadcast Trump’s reality-show drama that cast the climate as some meaningless backdrop for second-rate actors. I passed the time between administering dosages of oxycodone by reading predictions of this staged Rose Garden event. As I read, I wondered: How soon will my daughter heal from this extraction? And what does it mean to extract the second-highest emitter of carbon emissions from an international agreement? And why are these two extractions — on such different scales — linked in my mind forever?
For many Asian immigrants and refugees, coming to the United States wasn’t fully voluntary, but a result of war and poverty. Just as the Hebrews needed to learn to live as exiles, Asian Americans needed to find a way to make a new home in a new land. While their hardships reflect the difficulty of exile, Jimmy’s and Mary’s familial love and corporate responsibility also model for me how we Christians are to follow Jesus in the midst of this empire.
Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, now holds the title of biggest box office opening for a female-directed film.
At first glance, the meaning behind this tagline for Wonder Woman feels obvious, it is the next step on the DC franchise road to November’s Justice League movie. But of course, there’s more to it than that. Wonder Woman marks a feminist milestone, too, one that feels like artistic justice: it’s the first major superhero movie to feature a female hero, and the first to use a female director, Patty Jenkins.
Social and economic inequities are not just personal attitudes — they are the result of structural problems prevalent in many sectors of society and government. In the face of this reality, the federal government can be a force for good, attempting to correct its own past complicity and working to prevent future discriminatory behavior by businesses, schools, contractors, local police departments, and more. But this administration’s disregard for civil rights in the federal agencies it administers leads to an inescapable conclusion.
The pope talks about environmental protections from a spiritual perspective — an understanding of creation as a holy and precious gift from God, to be revered by all. We should make it a priority to keep our air clean, our water pristine, and our land whole. Whether we understand environmental stewardship as a God-given moral responsibility or from an economic and military strategic viewpoint, the fact remains: Environmental instability is inextricably linked to economic instability and increased discord throughout the world.
The biggest issue War Machine faces is that satire seems to be the wrong track for the movie to take. War and soldiers are difficult subjects to make funny. The best that writer-director Michôd can manage is to provide the stars — like Pitt and his military cohort — with a couple of strange quirks to color their performances. Sometimes these characterizations feel lazy, other times like the actors are trying too hard. The humor, when it’s there, feels forced.